London Diary: None Of Us Are Going Quietly
Well, it’s been a pretty downbeat month, especially when I was informed a couple of weeks ago that my chemo didn’t take at all. Oddly the one part of the poisoning process that seemed to work perfectly well was the development of nasty side-effects, which have crippled me. The sole remaining option is a possible experimental treatment with a low chance of effectiveness, so I’m debating my options (Rock, meet Hard Place). As someone who has never bought a lottery ticket because of the obviously ridiculous odds, I frown upon irrational hope. In a non-grumpy way.
On Saturday the Guardian outed me in the interview by talking about cancer. The journalist, Suzi, an old and trusted friend of mine, warned me beforehand and we discussed the best way to do it – I think she did a great job. The sheer slipperiness of the whole thing is frustrating; I can’t travel and – at the moment – can barely walk or eat. I’m exhausted after 11:00am. Worst of all, I’m not creating. My thought processes seem clear enough (although they’re in turmoil) but the extra synaptic snap that encourages me to spin a ludicrous series of events from a simple sentence I’ve read in a paper isn’t there.
For example, I read this and immediately thought; they’ve missed a trick. After ‘Breaking A Man’s Arm’ it should read ‘Mating For Life’. They’re the only two things anyone knows about swans. But I’ve just read all the papers this morning and have not even been able to retain headlines and bullet points.
Nor have I been able to extrapolate potty story ideas from them, and I speak as someone who just watched ‘Black Widow’, in which tiny slender women with no super powers kick down steel doors and throw themselves off tall buildings assuming they won’t die, thanks to some nebulous concept of sisterhood. I loved it. Anyone who’s seen it will appreciate this visual joke.
Seriously now. My fear is that ‘recharging the batteries’ (ie lying about doing nada) will coast me downhill faster than hopeless attempts to energise the brain/body. Needless to say, such conundrums (conundra? conundrae?) are not covered under the NHS instruction manual on cancer. I’m joking, there IS no instruction manual or help of any kind at the moment, although there are plenty of non-specific websites. The NHS system is stripped back and struggling. Plus, I’m allergic to the idea of therapy.
Something else nobody mentions; cancer physically ages you – joints, dry liverish skin, nervous system problems, hair loss etc. Â So, in these sargasso days I drift…too cold to go out (the UK is experiencing its coldest summer ever) and too antsy to settle.
Outside le tout UK is gearing up for the UEFA final by taking the traditional British approach, ie getting blind drunk eight hours before the match and missing it. Outside, men are bellowing like lonely cows and women are making noises like sea lions being strangled. Pub etiquette has flown out of the window so I may be forced to don earplugs.Â As far as we’re concerned here in Fowler Towers, a cup final is a perfect time to try for dinner reservations at Barrafina. And while I’m thrilled that so many people are excited about tonight, may I just point something out to the drinkersÂ opposite my kitchen?
You scream when you’re pushed off a boat.
You scream when you fall out of a plane.
You don’t scream when the waiter brings another bottle of wine.
For now I’m still here up here and seated at the blog, but rather than be a bore about it I’ll stop these pages when they get too dull. I was going to end with a Shakespeare quote but decided on the immortal Grandpa Simpson;Â
‘When I die I want to go peacefully in my sleep, not screaming like the passengers in my car.’